Affordable Renovation of Lawson House Progresses in Near North Side

Victor F. Lawson HouseVictor F. Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Renovation work continues to take shape at the 24-story Victor F. Lawson House at 30 W Chicago Avenue in Near North Side. The Art Deco high rise was originally designed by Perkins, Chatten & Hammond and completed in 1931. Developer Holsten Real Estate will be deconverting the former YMCA from 538 single room occupancy units into 408 affordable apartments. In exchange for keeping all on-site units affordable until at least 2073, the project received both low income housing tax credits and $12.4 million in historic preservation tax credits. Holsten Real Estate has also received a $17.6 million loan from the city, a $79.4 million loan from Chase Bank, and a $17.2 million loan from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. Past SRO tenants will be given priority to move back into the building once the renovation is complete. In the meantime, as noted by a 2021 press release from the city’s website, “Current tenants can choose to be temporarily relocated during the estimated 30-month construction period or instead choose to be permanently relocated elsewhere based on the terms of the Uniform Relocation Act.”

Victor F. Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Victor F. Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Victor F. Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

The new units will receive private kitchens and baths as part of the deconversion from shared living areas, as well as HVAC upgrades and in-unit air conditioning. Amenities will include the renovation of the existing gymnasium into a fully-equipped fitness center. The main entrance will also be moved from Chicago Avenue to the Dearborn cross street. Further programming will also include a social services and retail component on the ground level. Outside, the original limestone facade will be maintained and refurbished, with Farr Associates serving as architectural oversight.

Victor F. Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Victor F. Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Lawson House will provide its residents with various nearby transit options, such as bus stops for Routes 22, 36, and 66 all within a single block. Those looking to board the CTA Red Line will find Chicago station less than a minute’s walk east. A multitude of Divvy Bike stations and bike lanes also permeate the vicinity.

Victor F. Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Victor F. Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Victor F. Lawson House. Photo by Jack Crawford

Walsh Construction is serving as general contractor for the $122 million transformation, with work expected to wrap up in 2024.

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4 Comments on "Affordable Renovation of Lawson House Progresses in Near North Side"

  1. I’m shocked they didnt tear this down and build a glass box given Chicago’s track record.

  2. Ward Miller, Preservation Chicago | June 20, 2022 at 9:10 am | Reply

    A wonderful project all around and also a means of affordable housing on the Near North Side, where the Gold Coast, meets River North in Downtown Chicago. Kudos!

    With the principal entry being relocated from Chicago Avenue to Dearborn, do we know the plans for the historic main entry on Chicago Avenue and it’s Art Deco upper lobby? We assume with this remarkable team of talented designers that those spaces will be preserved with the tax credits, but it would be great to see a story on the interior features and their revisioning. Would the design team have renderings of the restored entries, lobbies on the first and second floors? Also, it would be great to see images of the historic gymnasium and pool as well. It’s also great to see the Victor Lawson name being retained, as this was a wonderful endeavor when first constructed in the 1930s as the Victor Lawson YMCA.

  3. I looked back at your previous articles on this project, wondering if the current SRO residents will be offered one of the new apartments? Also – I thought there was a movement to reinstate the concept of SROs. This seems like a social injustice, indeed.

    • Jack Crawford | June 20, 2022 at 12:28 pm | Reply

      Hi Jill, current SRO residents will be given priority for the new apartments. An article by the Chicago Sun Times from last year mentioned: “Current tenants would be located to suitable housing and given preference when the building is ready to be reoccupied.”

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